‘Send high-level team to save OFWs in Saudi death row’

A Filipino migrants’ right group in the Middle East urged the Aquino administration to send high-level team to save Overseas Filipino workers in Saudi death row.

The group issued the the amid the reports on the impending execution of an Overseas Filipino worker sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.

Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) is referring to the case of doomed OFW Joselito Zapanta, 32 yr. old, a native of Mexico, Pampanga.

Zapanta, a father of two, left for Riyadh, Saudi on October 14, 2007 to work as a tile setter. He was not given salary for six months by his first employer.  He then decided to look for another job and employer.  A fellow Filipino helped him get part time jobs.

It was in June 2009 when Zapanta’s family received a call from his friend in Saudi.  He informed them that Zapanta was in jail for killing his Sudanese landlord.  According to Zapanta’s friend, he was brutally beaten by his landlord because Joselito refused to give his rent for the apartment since his payment is not yet due.

“We have been repeatedly suggesting to the PHL govt. that a high-level team of diplomats will be sent to Saudi Arabia to once and for all look into the individual cases and status of OFWs on death row including of OFW Zapanta, so that they can come up legal actions and strategies to concretize it’s efforts saving the lives of OFWs on death row,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona added that the aggrieved family of the Sudanese whom OFW Jose Zapanta killed is standing by their decision to go for beheading.

“From the beginning, the Sudanese family is not willing to accept blood money. This was confirmed to me by no less than OFW Zapanta when we talked over a discreet phone call to me mid-year of 2011,” he added.

“We wonder why the PHL government through the PHL embassy in Riyadh did not seek the assistance of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC) that normally arrange for the negotiation between the aggrieved family and doomed person in agreeing to accept ‘diya’ or blood money in exchange of forgiveness just like the case of OFW Rogelio ‘Dondon’ Lanuza,” Monterona averred.

Monterona expressed doubt on the information that the Sudanese family is willing to accept blood money as it is not yet confirmed and his group is still verifying the said information.

He added that though there was already a final ruling on OFW Zapanta’s case, the Saudi Judicial Supreme Council has opened the case for mediation.

“We hope and pray that the mediation will proceed and eventually succeed to spare OFW Zapanta from execution,” Monterona added.

“We are appealing to the Saudi govt. to reprieve OFW Zapanta to give time for the negotiation of blood money and issuance of forgiveness by the Sudanese family, while we call on the Aquino govt. to intensify its efforts saving the lives of other OFWs in Saudi death row,” Monterona said.

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